West Ham caused a splash in the papers with their recent move for disgraced Premier League winner Samir Nasri. The attacking midfielder is soon available to return to football after completing his doping ban.
What could make more sense than him linking up with his former manager Manuel Pellegrini? Unfortunately, after a substantial time away from the pitch, Nasri isn’t fit enough to play and is having to make do with training alongside the Hammers until his fitness improves enough to make a decision on whether or not he will play for the Irons once his ban lifts.
He’s got a good history as a player, but is he worth the gamble? Nasri’s career reads like a dream up until 2016. He made 121 appearances for Marseille, 86 appearances for Arsenal and 124 for Manchester City, as well as 41 appearances for the French National team between 2007-13.
Nasri was regularly nominated for player of the month accolades, won the France Football French Player of the Year in 2010, and won two Premier League Titles with Manchester City during his time at the club. The attacking midfielder had a promising and impressive career, but he fell spectacularly from grace in 2016 when he was handed an 18 month ban from football for doping.
While on loan at Sevilla, Nasri underwent a hydration drip treatment in Los Angeles which had 10 times the allowed dosage of hydration fluid. Helpfully, Nasri then posed for a promotional picture with a ‘Drip Doctors’ co-founder, which was then Tweeted out by the Drip Doctors to advertise their services. This alerted the Spaniard anti-doping agency (AEPSAD) to his less-than-legal actions.
There is a chance that Nasri may not be the sharpest tool in the shed. He’s yet to complete his 18 month ban for doping, and in his extensive time out from football, you’d have hoped he’d have been working hard and keeping fit to make a comeback and jump straight into competitive football, but nope. It’s not just that he isn’t match fit, it’s that he isn’t fit, full stop.
Safe to say, there are some glaring red flags to signing this player. However, much like the bulls of Spain, West Ham seem to be drawn to all kinds of red flags and have offered Nasri a chance to train alongside the team to try to improve his fitness before his ban lifts in January 2019.
Provided he gets fit and stays clean, Nasri could fill a gap in the squad – but even this plugging and patching is problematic. It’s indicative of the biggest problem that still remains at West Ham. We are constantly putting out fires and finding short-term ‘solutions’ rather than looking to investment and long-term planning.
Sure, we just spent £100 million on players, but even that wasn’t as forward thinking as it seems. That £100 million is the investment that should have been made over the course of the past four years. We had to invest that much money in the team just to keep up pace with the other clubs in order to play mid-table football – and taking on an out-of-shape 31 year old who is currently banned from playing football doesn’t suggest we’re looking at climbing up the table.
Nasri might help cover injury issues in the short-term, but he’s not the type of player we want to be investing in. We need more Issa Diops, more Manuel Lanzinis, more players with hunger and potential rather than players with trophy cupboards which are impressive, but are also covered in dust.
So is it worth the gamble? We could indeed use an attacking midfielder, but it comes down to the cost. We can’t afford to devote too much money on a player who doesn’t have a long-term future in claret and blue, when we should be spending that money investing in securing the future services of young, hungry, potential-stuffed academy players. We also, as a club, can’t afford any more bad publicity, and someone with a history of breaking rules along with some sketchy incidents in his personal and professional life might not be the best choice for a club reeling from years of difficult press.
If he’s willing to keep his head down and work on a fair wage – he just might be worth the risk, but should a player with potential present an option, I’ll always favour looking towards the future.